June on the Farm

Richard Fonge writes:

June is the month of the longest day. Also the month when hay was made. This farming practice is now in decline, as most livestock is fed on silage, either from a clamp or wrapped as can be seen up the gated road. Horses are the prime eaters of hay. To make good hay you need at least four days of sunshine from mowing the grass to baling and then into barn for storage. I often hear people romanticising about making hay in years gone by, but believe me it was hard dusty work, and then you had the frustration of rain falling on the day of baling, resulting in an inferior product which had to be dried out again. The grass needs to be wilted and dried a little for silage, to make good winter feed but the task takes only two days at most. By sealing the the grass in a bag or clamp, fermentation takes place, and it is ready to be eaten in six weeks. Silage can be handled mechanically when feeding livestock, whereas stabled horses are fed by hand and a hay bale is easier.

In the field near to the Culworth turn a linseed crop is growing. It has a lovely blue flower. You may notice that sometimes you see it other times not. This is because it only comes out with the sun. The linseed seed is crushed and the oil used in paints and certain woods mainly. It is the same plant as Flax, which was grown widely in the past, mainly for the fibre of its stems. Linen comes from the linseed plant.

See next page for photos of hay being baled by modern machinery and the linseed field. Click on “read the rest of this entry”.

The mown grass is tedded or spread to hasten the drying……


…..a day later this machine rakes it into a row…..


….it is then put into a bale, tied with six strings….


……the wrapper picks up, wraps with polythene….


….and discharges.


The field of linseed to the north-west of the village.


The linseed flower.


One of the seven red kites which circled continuously over the field whilst the hay was baled, missing nothing that moved in the grass.

Finally I hope you have looked at John Sheppard’s wonderful photos. It is sad that some species  have declined bur organisations such as Natural England are working hard with farmers to try and reverse these trends, with many conservation projects. We only produce 54% of our food as a nation, so balancing the needs of feeding an expanding population, with more and more prime land going to housing and roads, whilst still retaining the natural habitat is to say the least a delicate situation.

Richard Fonge






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